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Travel & Vacations: Batten Down Your Hatches Before You Jump Into The ‘Foreign Travel Shark Cage’

Updated: Jul 9

Tips & Tricks For An Extraordinary Vacation In A Foreign Destination

Travel to a foreign country for your dream vacation can be the ultimate game-changer to alter your perceptions about how the “other side lives”. But we never consider that this might not be the only thing than can change our outlook on travel.

The most overlooked part of travel is often during the planning stage, when we leave certain things to chance, rather than considering that it might just happen.

I mean, who wants to be bothered with “bad travel experiences” when all you can think of before your trip is the heavenly time you’ll spend in your foreign destination? Life is tricky, and you’ve got to be prepared for all kinds of eventualities – by preparing for them – well in advance.

If you’re a well-traveled globetrotter, you might think you know about all the mishaps in the travel book; but hey, there’s always something that you might not even have thought about before.

So let’s start with “what can go wrong” and walk you through the steps to take to be well prepared to really have the time of your life on your next journey. Once you’ve ticked off all the boxes you’ll know for sure that your ‘foreign travel shark tanks’' surroundings are now occupied by lovely dolphins instead!

This simply means that all problems that may arise has a solution. The key to any happy event is by making a list of all the problems and focus on the solutions … instead of worrying yourself silly about the problems. 

Sleeping On the Airport Floor

Flights often get cancelled for various reasons beyond your control. But if you react instantly you can turn things around to work in your favor. The first step is to get the contact number of the airline’s customer service at the terminal so you can call them while you wait in that awfully long queue.

Believe me, the response time will be potentially speedier and give you the time you need to be in the front of the line to book the next available flight.

Other ways of getting quick answers instead of waiting your turn in the queue, would be to connect with the airline on social media and ensure that you have last-minute booking and flight tracker apps on your phone. With these apps you’ll be able to immediately spot possible problems before they are even announced.

Getting To The Airport On Time 

It’s obvious that you have to make sure you’re at the airport well ahead of time, but ‘bad things happen to good people’ and it can derail your best thought-out plans.

Use Google to plot the time it will take you to get to the airport, the time it will take you to get from the main terminal lounges to the gates, as well as allow extra time for security peak times.

When you type in your search on Google, you will be presented with a few results, namely, the time it will take, the distance, and a comparison of the routes leading to the airport, thereby giving you the option to choose the shortest route.

What’s more is that you can download an app that will actually tell you the condition of traffic on those roads and alternative routes that you can use. Isn’t it brilliant how technology made a lot of things much easier to handle?

Lastly, if you’re going to book cheap flights, it is important to check planned layovers to factor in the time to make it to your connecting flight spot on. Also check for other options that allow for extra time.

Identical-looking Luggage Confusion

To me, this is one of the most frustrating parts of air travel. It’s definitely no fun watching out for your luggage at the reclaim belt, with the thought that someone might have taken your identical-looking luggage by mistake.

Been there, done that, especially when you hardly slept a wink during your vacation because you just had to party up a storm for most of your stay. Since you were hardly able to keep your eyes open on the flight back home, how do you manage, blurry-eyed to watch out for your luggage?

Another thing, if you’re considering not checking anything in, by stuffing everything into a carry-on - this is a really bad idea. Packing lightly isn’t always the best idea, and it will depend a lot on what you can afford to replace once you’re in your travel destination.

You might just leave the most important items for your vacation behind … and besides that, who wants to go shopping for an item that is absolutely necessary when you land in your destination?

So how do you make sure that you don’t have to watch the reclaim belt like a hawk upon landing in your destination?

One option would be to choose unusual-colored luggage even if it’s not your favorite color. You know, the kind that is really an eye-sore and screams ‘hello’ at everyone and everything …

Another option is to wind brightly colored tape around the handle; and how about a comic emoji on the side of your bag that will stand out?

If, however, you do experience a mishap in the luggage department, you need to find out immediately where it’s headed.

Again, technology will come to your rescue. Just like you can trace your lost phone, laptop, vehicle, etc., you can also make use of luggage trackers. They will notify you when your bag is scanned in its ‘new’ destination.

You will also need to file a claim at the airport. Being the rather busy place that it is, you have to follow up through phone calls, emails, and the beauty that is called social media.

Destination Woes

Now that we’ve covered the hair-raising issues of airline mishaps, let’s move on to the horrors of your destination.

Lost & Found

I’m not talking about losing valuable items (we’ll get there later) – I’m talking about getting lost when you have to get to wherever you’re headed in your destination. Technology is magic, until you realize in your destination that you overlooked a few things.

Some of the most important being that your satellite is playing up, no data because you used it all up downloading all kinds of important things for your trip, or simply that your battery died on you. The solution – print a map, even though we have to keep the planet green.

You can always sort out the rest of your digital issues once you’re settled in at your accommodation. As long as you get there without a hitch.

Getting lost in a place where you might not know anybody or have somebody waiting for you could be extremely dangerous. So make sure that you have a map to help guide you along the way.

After all, the only country where you will find lost items establishments is in Japan. Did you know that this must make the Japanese the most honest nation on earth? They actually have places where lost goods are deposited for owners to find them. And they definitely don’t take in lost travelers!

Sleep Easy & Peacefully

A lot might happen from the time you booked your accommodation to check-in time. So get into the habit of printing out confirmations and make that phone call a few days before departure to get a second confirmation. If not possible by phone, email will do the trick.

There might also be issues by the time you arrive due to problems with flights; therefore, it’s best to make sure that you have details of alternative accommodation.

Digital solutions will once again come to your rescue as you can pre-load last-minute accommodation apps which will allow you to search and book.

If you anticipate possible problems awaiting you at your accommodation whilst still at the airport, head to the tourist information desk. They’ll be able to give you recommendations.

Your last option would be to check into the airport’s hotel just so you can have a place to overnight.

Getting Connected

Unfortunately, people with criminal tendencies are found in every country, no matter how good the security services might be. There’s also the fact that it’s easy to lose important items yourself, no matter how and when.

Being sure that everybody who knows you and the authorities in your country are aware of your travel plans, is just the most important thing that will give you peace of mind.

The solution is to follow a few simple steps to ensure that whether you lose items yourself or get mugged, you are able to navigate your way to replacing those items.

First would be to make extra copies of your travel documents and itinerary and keep them in separate bags, including two extra sets of photos.

Second, you would do yourself a favor by registering your travel plans with your government’s travel program.

Third, give family members and close friends details of your travel plans so that they know where you’ll be at any given day.

And last but not least, make a list of your country’s local embassy and get details for you consulate in the foreign destination, emergency numbers that you can call in your home country, as well as in your vacation destination, your bank’s details and other important places that you do business with.

Add these details to your phone and keep two printed copies in separate pieces of luggage.  Share the information with family and close friends whom you can trust as well.

Staying Safe & Healthy

Before your travels, take the time to learn more about your destination’s laws. You know the saying “When in Rome..."

Many people have made some or other mistake when visiting a foreign destination. While some of those mistakes might not have been serious enough to land all well-meaning travelers in jail, others have actually landed up there.

Apart from some of the laws that are not the usual in your own country, you also have to ensure that you don’t somehow get involved in drugs while visiting and avoid taking parcels of ‘you don’t know contains what’ with you.

Many people are spending life in a foreign prison for doing a ‘friend’ a favor by taking a parcel to someone in their destination – only to discover what friend gave them to deliver was indeed illegal drugs, or some other rare item that was smuggled into the country (by none other than you).

And by reading up on the country’s laws, I don’t mean regular laws that are similar in every country, but laws that are rooted in tradition.

For example, if you’ve never visited China, you won’t know that its taboo to take pictures at some landmarks and that you can get locked up for it.

As far as health is concerned, if your medication is unusual or contain narcotics, get your medical practitioner to give you a letter to attest to your need to take it. Ask your medical practitioner to have it translated into the foreign destination’s language wherever necessary.  

Keep medicines and medication in their original labeled containers. Carry two copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs that you need to take regularly with you. Keep copies of your medical and food allergies certificates in your luggage and download copies on your phone.

If you wear spectacles, pack an extra pair in your carry-on luggage.

Most important of all, don’t do anything that is unnecessary and would put your health and safety at risk.

Wrapping Up

Make sure that all your vacation needs and ‘unforeseen needs’ are included in your travel insurance.

Although you might think that your travel insurance will be sufficient to cover any eventuality, it’s still important to consider taking out extra insurance to cover the cost of excesses, as well as other medical and accident expenses that you might not have considered.

Read the small print to establish exactly what the excess is, what the policy covers and what the cap will be on any medical costs.

Print copies of the documents together with the details of the insurance company. Nowadays people are in the habit of keeping important details on their phones only.

But when it concerns important documents, printing copies helps you to get issues sorted out in case your phone gets stolen.

Another way to ensure that you have easy access to details and documents of any kind is to store it somewhere online. I still keep my little ‘black book’ and find ways to safeguard important documents both offline and online.

Create an ‘emergency fund’ (money not included in your vacation budget) that you have easy access to; for anything that might come up and is not covered by your insurance.

To finish your list of to-do tasks to get organized, there is one thing that people suffer great financial losses with. To top it all, it’s not something that they might have overlooked in their planning, but something that was completely out of their control.

I’m talking about the hassles of getting compensated for airline mishaps which cost people a lot of money. Think about all those who got stuck in a foreign country during the COVID-19 pandemic and who were never refunded by airlines. 

There are companies who will actually help you to recover moneys due to you for delayed flights, cancelled flights, when you are denied boarding, or miss a connection.

My recommendation is to connect with Compensair to find out just how they can help you claim back funds for your financial loss. To learn more about them, click on the link below and keep a note of their details for future use:

Did I miss something? Add your comments below to share with me and our readers.

Stay alert, safe and healthy … and Carpe Diem!

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